Political parties in bliss of ignorance on climate

Pakistan ranks seventh on the list of countries most vulnerable to climate change, claimed environmental experts

Mariam Shafqat May 20, 2017
Climate change PHOTO: REUTERS

LAHORE: Pakistan ranks seventh on the list of countries most vulnerable to climate change, claimed environmental experts on Friday. They termed the situation as an alarming one which needed immediate attention.

Perhaps even more alarmingly, only one of the national-level political parties seemed to pay significant attention to the subject in its manifesto. This was revealed during a workshop organised by Individualland Pakistan (IL) on climate change at a local hotel. IL is a research-based consultancy and advocacy group. The workshop, attended by students and social activists, hoped to sensitise people on climate change and stressed on the need for strategies to counter the threat to the state and citizens.

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The workshop also shared the findings of a comprehensive analysis of manifestos of 15 political parties with regards to climate change. The mixed method research, carried out in 2016, focused on estimating the basic understanding of political parties about climate change.

To thoroughly gauge the opinions of politicians on the subject, IL conducted interviews with them. The four-tier analysis started with quantitative word search for “climate change” and the “environment” in the political manifestos of the selected parties.

The study found out that only national level political party consistently mentioned the core word of climate change in their manifestos. The research found out that Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians mentioned the word “environment” 28 times and “climate change” nine times. PPP accepted that the phenomenon posed threats to the country. The majority of the climate change mitigation measures mentioned in the manifesto of PPP were related to water and flood management.

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The ruling party, PML-N, mentioned the environment 11 times and climate change just twice in its manifesto. The party links climate change to already lost or potential loss of business opportunities. At the same time, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, mentioned the environment just three times in their manifesto, with no mention of climate change whatsoever.

Moreover, the study also discovered out that no party, except for PML-N, mentioned the word global warming in their manifestos. Session moderator Sundas Syed also shared data related to climate change in Pakistan, including the rise in temperatures and decrease in rainfall, with the help of info graphics based on extensive research.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 20th, 2017. 

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